I was asked recently how I felt about writing having just finished a novel. I was asked whether I had lost focus? Whether getting the novel out meant I wasn’t focused on writing as much? The immediate answer was a no: why would I? Then puzzlement set in…
The enquirer knew the range of my backlist fairly well. They also knew my focus, that given my personal issues, writing is one of the few things I can do. They also knew I enjoyed writing. So I did a little bit of self-examination. Where was I with writing? I checked my own output and progress: another novel being shared with agents; yet another novel after that well over half-way through; a steady stream of articles; speaking at a recent writing workshop; more short stories being interspersed…
The output and creativity was still there. Could I blog a bit more? Perhaps, but I run several blogs on different topics. I was certainly still enjoying the exploration and writing process – immensely so. The need to write was still there and, if anything, growing stronger. The creativity and research still inspired me. So could the issue lie with assumptions brought to the question?
Maybe. But it occurred to me that it could also lie somewhere else, about a lack of understanding about the drive to write, that need I mentioned. Whilst writing is one of the few things I can physically do – vocal stuff now limited to just helping writers read – expressing ideas, concepts and the worlds I imagine or step into is still just as important. Ideas come and need to be put down before they fly away or intrude into other writings. Characters still talk to me, almost complaining they haven’t had a chance to do their stuff, yet, so I have to dedicate time to making sure they have their say. Whole stories are inspired by what I see around me and need to be noted down: I wish I could read the writing in my notebook , but thank goodness for the dictation app!
I wonder if that need is the issue. It’s difficult to express and what I’ve mentioned here isn’t the half of it. But I’m beginning to wonder if it’s that need that is at the core of writing – or, rather, being a writer. I struggle when I’m away from where I can write, much more than I think those around me realise. I go on holiday and find I’m still having stories pour into my head; I take a break, and find I’m looking for stories in those around me; I consciously take a break and do a hobby, and find I’m making up stories about that.
It may be obsessive, but it’s there, nonetheless, often driving me into real pain. It doesn’t matter if I’ve just finished a story; it doesn’t matter how well I write, how good the finished story is: I just have to put it down, express what’s happening.
I have write: I need to write.
[Featured Image: ‘The blank paper taunts me…’, Richard Due,
Flickr, Creative Commons ]